Handle With Care: Preparing For A Big Move

April 6, 2015

How to prepare for a big move...with your sanity intact & peace of mind!


I’ve moved across country three times and across the city once.  First from California to Chicago for graduate school, then again back home after I graduated to no job in sight, the final time, I moved back in 2013 for love.  (Luckily the last time, I moved back for more than just love- since we know how that panned out!)

Each time, moving can be an emotional experience.  It’s highly stressful to deal with logistics, or find a new place if you haven’t located a new home and then you have the very real personal side of moving- dealing with goodbyes, dealing with your “stuff” which usually is pretty emotionally charged, and sometimes, leaving behind a job, routine and memories.  It can be a very heart wrenching time, even when it’s exciting to pack up and move!

In my three cross country moves, I’ve learned a few things on how to cope with the very emotional part of moves. I hope my advice is helpful to you- I’ve been through it enough to know it can be tough!   Whether you’re moving for a new job, a relationship or a fresh start in a new city- moving is a part of everyone’s life at one point or another.  It can be an emotional time- in good ways and bad with stress and excitement, so we all can relate.  Moving isn’t just a process of moving “stuff,” but it represents your life, and what you carry with you has so much history.  You may be focusing on stuff, but this is also your life- so you have to handle with care!


First, decide on a strategy.

You need to know your heart- are you going to cope better with a flash strategy, tackling the packing tasks like lightning without giving it much time to think of what to keep and purge, or would you rather spread out your packing and sorting over a few less intense weekends?

Everyone’s different in how they want to handle sifting through years of stuff and deciding what should stay and what should go.  Even if you have hired movers, there is still so much to sort through.  You’ll have gobs of paperwork, clothes, books and clutter you’re not really sure if you’ll need or want anymore. It can be a very draining process.  Knowing this- decide what will help you guard your energy levels…should you do this alone or with a friend who can help you sort, pack and purge in a swift weekend, or do you need a more long term, calculated strategy that will allow for breaks if you get tired or overwhelmed? You can also download this moving guide for ideas & helpful printables.


Remember, It’s Just Stuff.  Let It Go.

A change in routine, meaning, a move from one home to another or even switching jobs or migrating to a new part of the country, may make us want to hold onto the familiar comfort of the past even more. Usually, that comfort comes in the form of our stuff, which are wrapped in memories.  As you pack up or purge, certain items will be triggers- causing you to walk down memory road as you unveil them.  Going through closets may reveal an old photo album from a past relationship, and if you dwell on it too long, it could derail your entire day.  Additionally, there are some things we hold onto for more superficial reasons- clothes that don’t fit anymore or home items we swear we’ll miss at the new house… we keep things on promises that we “could” use them or tell ourselves we need them, and we don’t.

It can be overwhelming to go through so much stuff- the more you let go, the lighter you feel.  Other than family heirlooms, photos and a few very useful items, the rest is just stuff.  Donate it to a cause you love, you already have too much stuff and yes, everything you pack has to be unpacked later!


Ask for help.

In my cross-country moves, I almost drove across the country by myself on two occasions, but luckily, people stepped in to not allow me to go through that process alone.  What I wish I would have asked for help with, was the packing of boxes and the loading of boxes, all of which I nearly did by myself.  It was emotionally and physically exhausting- never mind that each time I also had to furnish my new places…. trips to IKEA and the thrift store made me want to live a minimalist lifestyle for sure!

As long as you give as much as you get in relationships, you can ask for help.  Most times, we are independent and don’t want to burden others with our very personal and literal, baggage.  We also have a tendency to underestimate how emotionally charged moving can be.  Folks know they can offer pizza and beer to help move a couch, but honestly- sometimes you need a good girlfriend to help you pick out new furniture, or sit with you and help you decide what clothes to donate. Really, it’s ok!

Looking back, I wish I’d asked for help during my move.  I didn’t anticipate how emotionally and physically exhausting moving would be- even when I was totally excited to start a new chapter.  I think moving is like a half marathon, or like childbirth (though I can’t quite attest to that because I’m childless right now, but I’ve heard…) that you tend to forget how hard it was after it’s over and it didn’t seem so bad- yet every minute of the process you couldn’t wait for it to end!


If you’re getting ready to move, how are you preparing? Do you have any advice for people moving to a new home?




This post was written as part of the Allstate Influencer Program and sponsored by Allstate. All opinions are mine. As the nation’s largest publicly held insurance company, Allstate is dedicated not only to protecting what matters most–but to guiding people to live the Good Life, every day.


10 comments so far.

10 responses to “Handle With Care: Preparing For A Big Move”

  1. Gretchen says:

    Great tips! I especially love your tip about not being afraid to ask for help. There are so many jokes about not wanting to help friends move, but in all reality, most people are willing to help in exchange for food & beer!

    • Shannyn says:

      Exactly! The key is trying to make it as fun and enjoyable for everyone as possible. I would never refuse to help a friend move!

  2. Oh man I hate moving! Josh and I moved from Pennsylvania to Nebraska two summers ago. I’m so glad it’s done!

  3. Michelle says:

    We recently just had a big move and we are going to do it again next year as well. It’s so stressful but I’m all about hiring help for unloading and loading if you don’t have anyone nearby to help. It was a lifesaver for us!

    • Shannyn says:

      If you’ve got a long move with a lot of stuff, sometimes it does pay to just hire help. As long as it’s saving your sanity!

  4. Will says:

    I moved 3 times last year. My advice is to start packing earlier than you think you have to. I would start packing my nonessentials a week in advance.

  5. Jean Andrews says:

    I have also moves several times and the goodbyes are just the hardest. But you are right, moving is a part of life we just have to deal with.

  6. Wyatt says:

    Try U-Haul Trucks because they are cheap. Then add a few male friends or your new neighbors to help you with the boxes. We really don’t mind doing that for a lady.


Get Updates Via Email

Join The Frugal Beautiful Update List!
Get Posts Sent To Your Inbox...subscribe below!